Comments En Route Kinshasa

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
En Route Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
August 10, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) It was a very full, comprehensive discussion of every issue, unlike what I usually do on the back of the plane, this is actually on the record. And --

QUESTION: It is on the record?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, yeah. And we talked about the specifics of our new bilateral strategic partnership that the foreign minister and I agreed upon yesterday. It’s going to be broadly inclusive of issues from agriculture and health to security and military-to-military cooperation. We talked at length about the process leading to a new constitution and how important it was that that be resolved as quickly as possible and elections be held. We talked about greater transparency in the energy sector and what more could be done to create accountability. We talked about the regional issues from Madagascar and Zimbabwe to the D.R.C. and --


SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Sudan and Chad. Johnnie, what else did we cover?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: We talked about agricultural issues, we talked about helping them deal with environmental issues, helping perhaps to establish research centers that deals with environmental concerns.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And renewable energy.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: And renewable energy.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the reaction from (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: He gave a very thoughtful description of the choices they’re trying to make, but committed that the constitution would be completed and elections would be held under it in a timely manner, as soon as it could be done. But among the issues they’re trying to figure out is how to move from what is essentially, in his words, kind of a French presidential system to an American presidential system. And what kind of electoral process to have, more like the U.S. or more like South Africa? They’re consulting broadly. They named some of the countries that they’ve talked to and the research that is being done.

But we underscored the importance of moving expeditiously to get this constitution done and then hold the elections as soon as possible under the constitution. And he was very positive in his reaction to the points we were making.

QUESTION: On the D.R.C., do you have any – what are you going to be asking (inaudible)?



QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, obviously, we’re now on our way to Kinshasa, which is a very important stop, to work with the Kabila government and to press them on many issues that they have got to address. Their military needs professionalizing. And actually, we talked to President Dos Santos about military advisors and support that Angola can give the D.R.C. military. We are going to press on working for ways to create broader political legitimacy and credibility by his government across the country.

It was very important for me to go to Goma. I made that clear when we were planning this trip. A lot of concerns were raised and many objections. And I said, I know we can get there and we’re going. We’re going on a UN plane because we can’t take our planes in because it’s too big.

And when we’re there tomorrow, I will be pressing very hard for not just assistance to help those who are being abused and mistreated, and particularly the women who are turned into weapons of war through the rape that they experience, but also looking for ways to try to end this conflict.

And we talked to President Dos Santos, and he very quickly said, look, there’s a lot of money being made in the eastern Congo because of the mineral trade, and there has to be a way with the United States and the United Kingdom and France and Rwanda and everybody coming together to try to prevent the mining from basically funding a lot of these militias that are keeping the fighting going with all the attendant human rights issues.

Do you want to add anything?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Yeah, I would – President Dos Santos also expressed great concern and great interest about the eastern Congo. He said instability in the Congo generates instability in Angola. The two countries share a border of some 2,600 kilometers, and fighting and conflict on the other side of the border flows over and can generate problems in his own country. And that is one of the reasons why he was supportive of the Secretary’s efforts in (inaudible) --

PRN: 2009/T11-33